NZ immigration work visa changes to target ‘unsustainable’ migration

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NZ's Immigration Minister Erica Stanford
NZ's Immigration Minister Erica Stanford. . . . "Getting our immigration settings right is critical to this government's plan to rebuild the economy." Image: RNZ/Angus Dreaver

The New Zealand government is bringing in immediate changes to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa, which it says will help protect migrants from exploitation and address unsustainable net migration.

In 2023, a near-record 173,000 non-New Zealand citizens migrated to the country.

The changes to the work visa scheme include introducing an English language requirement for migrants applying for low-skilled jobs.

A number of construction roles will also no longer be added to the green-light list due to less demand, and the franchisee accreditation category will be disestablished.

Immigration Minister Erica Stanford said the changes focus on using the local labour market first, while still attracting high-skill migrants where there are skill shortages.

“Getting our immigration settings right is critical to this government’s plan to rebuild the economy,” she said today in a statement.

“The government is focused on attracting and retaining the highly skilled migrants such as secondary teachers, where there is a skill shortage. At the same time we need to ensure that New Zealanders are put to the front of the line for jobs where there are no skills shortages.”

‘Understanding rights’
She said having an English language requirement would mean migrants “will be better able to understand their rights or raise concerns about an employer early”.

“These changes are the start of a more comprehensive work programme to create a smarter immigration system that manages net migration, responds to our changing economic context, attracts top talent, revitalises international education, is self-funding and sustainable, and better manages risk.”

The changes are immediate, applying from today or tomorrow, April 8.

The full list of changes to the AEWV scheme can be found on the Immigration website.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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